These deep-fried pastries were already popular in France in the eighteenth century. At that time, vanilla was not yet commonly available, and either orange flower water or grated lemon zest was used to flavour the pastry.
This is an unusual use of choux pastry. Normally piped out and baked, here it is deep fried. The mixture differs slightly from classic choux pastry in that milk rather than water is used, but the procedure for making it is the same.
NOTE: Pay special attention to the temperature of the oil during frying. If it is not hot enough, the fritters will be soggy, but if it is too hot, they will brown before they expand and puff.
300 ml (10 fl oz) milk
60 g (2 oz) butter
15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
150 g (5 oz) flour
750 g (1.5 lb) fresh apricots, stoned, or canned apricot halves
50 g (1.75 oz) sugar (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
75 ml (2.5 fl oz) water
30 ml (2 tbsp) kirsch
Icing sugar for dusting
Oil for deep-fat frying
Listen to the chef about deep-fat frying.
Prepare the choux pastry: use the above ingredients, using the milk instead of water, and adding the sugar and vanilla to the milk before stirring in the flour.
Prepare the sauce: purée the apricots in a blender or food processor, then press the purée through a sieve to remove the skins. Taste the purée, then whisk in the sugar, if needed, and then the lemon juice, water and kirsch. Refrigerate until serving time.
Heat the oil to 185 C (360 F) in a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer. (It is important that the pan be no more than one-third full of oil.)
Dip 2 teaspoons in cold water to keep the pastry from sticking. Scoop up a mound of pastry with one spoon. Invert the second sproon over the top of the mound to smooth the pastry to an even, rounded oval shape. Then slide the top spoon under the pastry to push it off the spoon carefully into the hot oil. Repeat to form 5 or 6 more fritters (the exact number will depend on the size of your pan if you cook too many at once the tempera- ture of the oil will drop and the fritters will not colour properly). As the fritters rise to the surface, flip them over to colour the other side. Continue to fry until uniformly golden and at least doubled in volume. Drain on a rack covered with paper towels. Repeat to fry the remaining batter.
To serve, arrange the fritters in a pyramid shape on a doily-lined platter. Sift icing sugar generously over the top. Serve hot or lukewarm, accompanied by the apricot sauce.